Sustainability and Certification Impact Workshop

Lower Manhattan, New York City, May 16, 2012

The Rainforest Alliance Sustainability and Certification Impact Workshop 2012 Post-Workshop Resources

Agenda and Tensie Whelan's Introductory Presentation
Producers Having an Impact in Their Communities
Panel: Engaging Consumers -- Consumption Trends
Panelists and Presenters
Event Summary: Sustainability and Certification Impacts Workshop

Kyung-Ah Park, Managing Director, Head of Environmental Markets Group, Goldman Sachs & Co., welcomed and briefed participants on the latest sustainability trends in the financial sector. As Kyung-Ah noted, there is both an important commercial opportunity and a leadership role that the financial sector can play in financing market-based, scalable solutions to environmental issues.

25 Years of Transforming Land Use and Business Practices

President Tensie Whelan gave an update on the Rainforest Alliance's progress and impact over the past 25 years. During that time, the Rainforest Alliance has certified 161 million forested acres (65 million hectares) to the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) standard, and trained more than 7,000 entrepreneurs in sustainable tourism. In 2011, over 250,000 producers covering 2.7 million acres (1.1 million hectares) of farmland achieved Rainforest Alliance certification. This reflects a 205 percent growth in the number of certified producers over 2010, and a 55 percent growth in the area of certified farmland. Other 2011 milestones include certified tea production reaching 9.4 percent of global production, and the verification of the first two coffee farms to new climate-friendly criteria -- a voluntary add-on to Rainforest Alliance certification.

In her closing remarks, Tensie noted that during the next 25 years, the challenge will be to continue to scale up sustainable land use and business practices, and to strengthen alliances across sectors and industries. The next frontier will be to change consumer behavior.  Tensie challenged workshop participants to think about how we can be leaders in sustainable consumption, as we have been leaders in sustainable production.

Producers Having an Impact in Their Communities

Eric Ponçon, Head Trader, Office of Strategy Management, ECOM, led a discussion on the environmental, social and economic benefits of certification in communities working with the Rainforest Alliance.

Juan Carlos Ardila, General Manager, La Arboleda Community Mill, shared how a community mill built by La Arboleda farmers dramatically decreased processing costs and environmental impacts (19 liters of water are saved for each kilo of water in parchment processing) of the community’s coffee production. Leonardo Sorice, Director, Fazendas Reunidas Vale do Juliana SA, told how certification has allowed workers in his cooperative to innovate to increase productivity and provided them with access to information on reforestation and waste management. Leonardo shared that he is proud of the changing culture in his community, particularly its focus on environmental education. Apsara Chapagain, Chairperson, The Federation of Community Forestry Users, Nepal (FECOFUN), noted that in her region certification has reduced illegal logging, increased supply of forest products, empowered local people and harmonized different ethnic groups and indigenous peoples. Kurt Holle, Owner, Posada Amazonas Lodge by Rainforest Expeditions, explained that to ask native communities to sacrifice hunting and protect the land, they need an incentive. The business that his sustainable tourism lodge creates provides this incentive.

Panel: Engaging Consumers – Consumption Trends

Diane Jukofsky, Vice President, Communications, Marketing & Education, Rainforest Alliance, lead panelists in a dynamic discussion about current consumption trends related to sustainability.

John Gerzema, Executive Chairman, BAV Consulting, shared that consumers are now moving from mindless to mindful consumption and that 71 percent of consumers want to buy from companies with values that match their own. John said that for companies and brands, consumer trust is a precious commodity, and that capitalism is now about better instead of more. Jacquelyn Ottman, President, J. Ottman Consulting, Inc., addressed the issue of “green washing,” and said that consumers are now analyzing every phase of product lifecycles, not just the production, to determine if a product is responsible. Roo Rogers, President, Redscout Ventures, discussed the move toward collaborative consumption. Redistribution markets such as eBay, where goods are reused and repurposed, are being redefined through technology. All panelists agreed that if the 20th century focus was hyper consumption, then the 21st focus is collaborative consumption.

Panel: Increasing Impact through Supply Chain Engagement

Labeeb Abboud, Rainforest Alliance board member and general counsel of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, lead panelists in a discussion about the environmental, social and economic impact of requiring sustainable sourcing, and addressed how companies are tackling the challenges presented by scaling up sustainability in their supply chains.

river through trees

Kip Walk, Corporate Director of Cocoa and Sustainability, Blommer Chocolate Company, shared that through its on-the-ground work, Blommer has developed a sustainability network collaborating with more than 40,000 farmers in Indonesia, Ecuador and Côte d'Ivoire. Blommer is attempting to increase the communication between the buyer and farmer, and they see that certification plays an important role in facilitating this relationship. Lee Ballin, Sustainability Manager of Bloomberg's Global Sustainability group, explained that since Bloomberg’s actual supply chain footprint is relatively small, they can make the biggest impact bringing transparency to investors, analysts, governments and newsmakers worldwide. Mike Barry, Head of Sustainable Business, Marks & Spencer, pointed out that we have a long way to go before supply chain risks are adequately managed, but that by providing incentives to keep resources intact and continuing to create transparency throughout the supply chain, companies are beginning to better manage these risks. Mark Buckley, Vice President of Environmental Affairs of Staples, Inc., urged other companies to learn to speak the common language of terminology across the supply chain in order to facilitate collaboration and increase sustainability measures. Nathalie Ritchie, Senior Manager, Sustainability and Ethical Supply Chains of Kraft Foods, explained that Kraft undertook a life cycle analysis of all products, and found that agriculture has the greatest environmental impact on its supply chain. Their Canadian coffee brand Nabob uses the chaff from its beans to produce renewable energy in its manufacturing facilities and has shrunk its transportation miles, optimized its packaging, and earned LEED certification for one of its coffee roasting facilities.

Private-Public Partnership Investments in Biodiversity Protection: Impacts to Date and Future Trends

Ana Paula Tavares, Executive Vice President of the Rainforest Alliance, talked about the work that the Rainforest Alliance has achieved with the Global Environment Facility (GEF), including projects in coffee, tourism, forestry and cocoa. Last year, when the Rainforest Alliance and the United Nations Environment Programme launched Greening the Cocoa Industry -- a project that will benefit 1.85 million acres (750,000 hectares) of cocoa lands and bring sustainability to 10 percent of the world’s cocoa production -- it was the GEF that provided the funding. Through this project, cocoa growers in 10 countries are adopting improved farm practices that conserve their environment, increase their incomes, benefit their families and communities, and provide long-term stability for the cocoa industry.

Monique Barbut, CEO and Chairperson, GEF, reflected on the 21 years that have passed since GEF was founded. Working in over 182 countries, the GEF is the largest public funder of projects designed to improve the environment. GEF supports initiatives that safeguard biodiversity, curb climate change, avoid land degradation, protect the ozone layer and combat persistent organic pollutants. Since her appointment to the post in 2006, Monique has undertaken a revitalization of the GEF to make it a more innovative, effective, responsive and results–based institution.

Thank you!

The event was attended by 160 executives and senior staff from companies that produce, source and promote Rainforest Alliance Certified™ products, along with other leaders in sustainable business.

The Rainforest Alliance sincerely thanks all participants for their engagement, commitment, passion and creativity. It is through your efforts to certify and promote sustainable management that we are able to achieve our mission to conserve biodiversity and ensure sustainable livelihoods.

We would like to give special thanks to Goldman, Sachs & Co. for sponsoring the workshop.

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